Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dog days

The really hot part of summer is sitting right on top of us. I've finally caught up on sleep today, even though it was that awful kind of napping where you're just laying in your own sweat for a while but can't move b/c it's so hot.

Wednesday's trip south was good: we ended up going to the southernmost province in Korea to visit the one papermaker left in a village where there used to be tons. It was great to see every single step of the process, but the heat and killing time in between shoots really wore on us (I had invited Audrey and we both cut class - worth it just to get out of the city). It was all mountains on the way there and back. Bo Kyung Kim drove us down and then took us to the bus stop to get back since she was staying longer. There's only one bus to Seoul from that town a day, so we got there in time to get some ice cream and fluids for the 4.5-hour bus ride. I spent both Tues & Wed nights with my cousin's family, and even got some good children's books to practice reading Korean. One is a really sad story about a poverty-stricken family whose small child chews paper, and another is a comic book that helps kids learn Chinese characters.

Thursday, I went with Gigg to meet Na Rae Kim at her studio, where her workers were busy preparing props to shoot for her next book (she has a whole series of different book arts projects for children). I talked to her photog about my project and he said that there is another Buddhist nun who makes paper, so hopefully I'll get info on her soon. After that, I headed to Hapjeong to meet the new executive asst for Fulbright to take a look at my future apt (to see if I'd be okay living there). While I waited for her, I had a really good sweet potato iced latte at Crown Bakery. Totally hit the spot, and good timing b/c I had been craving sweet potato that day for some strange reason. For dinner, we went to a place specializing in barley (instead of white rice) - the whole menu was similar to "health food" places back home.

Friday, I somehow made it through class, did homework, had ice cream, and headed home. It was SO HOT that I tried to find a coffeeshop whose sister shop Diana and I had visited last week, but in the search for it, I noticed a sign on the same building for a place called "Yogaholic" (of course, all in Korean). I stepped in to get a schedule and instead ended up sitting down for a 2.5-hour talk w/the co-owner (he and his wife are the main teachers there). He spent 3 years in the US, north of Chicago and close to Denver, so he knew a good amount of English. Yoga classes in Korea are structured so that you can't drop into one class; you have to pay for 3 months in advance, 1 month if you're lucky to negotiate it that way. It was my first encounter with a Korean yogi! I felt right at home.

It's been pretty amazing to poke around and find all the different aspects of community that I had back home. I'll meet next week with a gallery director and finally called the nun that I will study with later in the year. I had been dreading those calls, fearful of the high-and-mighty stance that I'm so used to in the US, but both of them were incredibly nice and put me at ease right away. The generosity and hospitality of the people I have met has blown me away. In many ways, my extreme exhaustion is simply a product of abundance. Talking with the yoga teacher helped remind me that I'm probably on the right path.

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